Positivity in Writing


In an interview with Hannah Seligson of the New York Daily News , psychologist Susan Segerstrom connects optimism with success: “Optimists are more successful because they are willing to overcome obstacles and problem-solve, which are critical skills to advancement in any work environment.”

Segerstrom’s assertion was based on her research following 10 students before and after law school. She found that the students who were more optimistic before starting law school earned more money after graduation.

Let’s apply optimism to professional writing. If writers use positive language and statements, will their documents be more effective? Yes, they will.

With positive words, documents are easier and more enjoyable to read. And when the writer focuses on possibilities and opportunities rather than mistakes and failures, the audience is energized and more receptive to the presented ideas. With positive language, you can reframe problems as opportunities.

Of course, we’re not suggesting dishonesty or lies of omission. Just choose your words carefully. For instance, “The project was a complete failure due to a budget overrun of $200,000” can also be stated this way: “Although we absorbed a significant overrun of $200,000, the project highlighted several possibilities for future development.” In this way, readers are made curious about upcoming strategies rather than left stewing over past missteps.

Read more about implementing positive language in your documents. Also, be sure to use all of the tools in our Resource Center to improve your documents. Hurley Write is here to help.